US, EU, Britain and Canada hit Belarus with co-ordinated sanctions

2 December 2021, 17:44

Migrants at a logistics centre at the Belarus/Poland border near Grodno in Belarus
Belarus Poland Border. Picture: PA

Britain said it had imposed sanctions ‘on eight Belarusian individuals responsible for repression and human rights violations’.

The United States, European Union, Britain and Canada slapped simultaneous sanctions on dozens of officials, organisations and companies in Belarus, with the EU taking aim at those accused of taking part in a “hybrid attack” on the bloc using migrants.

The four have targeted Belarus since President Alexander Lukashenko won another term in office last year after elections that the West and other observers say were fraudulent, and over the security crackdown on peaceful protesters that followed.

The US State Department said the US Treasury had “identified three aircraft as blocked property and designated 32 individuals and entities, including Belarusian state-owned enterprises, government officials, and other persons, who support the regime and facilitate its repression”.

Meanwhile, the EU imposed travel bans and asset freezes on 17 more people, including senior border guard and military officials, government representatives and judges.

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko
Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko (Andrei Stasevich/BelTA Pool Photo via AP)

The measures also hit air carriers – including state carrier Belavia – and travel groups accused by the EU of helping to bring migrants to Belarus with the aim of helping them cross into the 27-country bloc, chiefly through Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

Britain said it had imposed sanctions “on eight Belarusian individuals responsible for repression and human rights violations”. It also froze the assets of OJSC Belaruskali, one of the world’s largest producers of potash fertiliser, which is a major source of revenue for the Belarus government.

The US state department said “today’s actions demonstrate our unwavering determination to act in the face of a brutal regime that increasingly represses Belarusians, undermines the peace and security of Europe, and continues to abuse people seeking only to live in freedom”.

At least 8,000 migrants, many of them Iraqis, have entered the EU without authorisation this year from Belarus. Lithuania and Poland declared a state of emergency at their borders to stop people crossing. Several people died, trapped in the Poland/Belarus border zone in sub-zero temperatures.

Migrants queue for hot food at a logistics centre at the Belarus/Poland border near Grodno in Belarus
Migrants queue for hot food at a logistics centre at the Belarus/Poland border near Grodno in Belarus (Oksana Manchuk/BelTA via AP)

It was with this in mind that the EU targeted Belavia.

“Migrants wishing to cross the union’s external border have been flying to Minsk on board flights operated by Belavia from a number of Middle Eastern countries, in particular Lebanon, UAE (United Arab Emirates) and Turkey,” the sanctions text said.

Cham Wing Airlines, which operates flights from Syria to Belarus, is also in the EU’s sights.

It stands accused of ramping up flights from Damascus to Minsk over the summer and setting up new offices in the Belarus capital to better organise the shuttles.

Also on the list is state tourism company Tsentrkurort, which the EU claims helped at least 51 Iraqis obtain visas to Belarus and organised bus transport for them to the borders.

Migrants in a logistics centre at the Belarus/Poland border near Grodno in Belarus
The EU condemned ‘the orchestrated and politically motivated instrumentalisation of human beings by the Lukashenko regime’ (Oksana Manchuk/BelTA via AP)

The Hotel Minsk company and Hotel Planeta, which are linked to the Belarus President Property Management Directorate, are accused of lodging migrants trying to reach the border.

The EU also took aim at VIP Grub, a passport and visa service based in Istanbul, Turkey. The sanctions list said the company “organises trips to Belarus with the explicit intention of facilitating migration to the EU. VIP Grub actively advertises migration to the EU”.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc would not tolerate “the orchestrated and politically motivated instrumentalisation of human beings by the Lukashenko regime”.

“This cynical strategy of exploiting vulnerable people is an abhorrent attempt to deflect attention from the regime’s continued disregard for international law, fundamental freedoms and human rights in Belarus,” Mr Borrell said in a statement.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

This photo released Tuesday, August 9, 2022, by the Albuquerque Police Department shows Muhammad Syed, 51, who was taken into custody on Monday in connection with the killings of four Muslim men in Albuquerque, New Mexico, over the last nine months

‘Motive unclear’ as Muslim man charged with deaths of two Muslims in Albuquerque

Albuquerque Muslim Killings

Man charged with killing two Muslim men in US city

Emmett Till

Grand jury declines to indict woman whose accusation set off lynching in 1955

Albuquerque Muslim Killings

‘Primary suspect’ held over killings of Muslim men in New Mexico

Israel Palestinians

Militants killed by Israeli troops in West Bank as violence resumes

Kenya Elections

Kenya’s close presidential election draws fewer voters

Israel Palestinians

Palestinians: Israeli troops kill three militants in West Bank

Lamont Dozier

Motown songwriter-producer Lamont Dozier dies aged 81

A military fighter jet flies above the Taiwan Strait

Taiwan warns China drills show ambitions beyond island

A Ukrainian serviceman walks on a street at the frontline in Mykolaiv region, Ukraine

Ukraine: Shelling hits town near Russian-held nuclear plant

South Korea Weather

Nine dead in Seoul after torrential rain turns streets into rivers

The Beluga whale in the Seine river (Sea Shepherd via AP)

Rescuers to move whale stranded in French river to saltwater

Election 2022 Wisconsin Governor

Trump’s home in Florida searched by FBI ‘in White House records probe’

Issey Miyake

Famed Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake dies aged 84

Kenya Election

Voting under way in Kenya’s presidential election

Japan Nagasaki Anniversary

Nagasaki mayor warns of ‘present nuclear crisis’ on anniversary of US bombing